Printing is one of those industries that is riddled with job variables that can cause problems with customer satisfaction. Not only is your print work critical to customer happiness but so is the pre press set up and everything else involved with the job. As a manual screen printer who does every part of the job himself by hand, I often am very disappointed in myself when a customer expresses dissatisfaction with a print job. Because I take so much pride in my work and my reputation, I can take it very hard when someone is not pleased with my work. And as hard as I try, there will always be those who are just not happy. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years you can use to help you avoid unsatisfied customers.
The first and foremost important thing to do with your customer is communicate. Never assume that the person will be fine with any minor changes or substitutions in garments. Make sure to walk your customer through the entire process to be sure they understand what they need to provide you for artwork. Be upfront about costs and charges for anything related to their print job. Women, especially need to be comforted and put at ease with any part of the process they do not understand. Always be patient with your customers and give extra attention to females.
Next it is very important to be on the same page with your customer in relation to artwork. I never have any artwork approved by email. I always bring a print out that is to size for them to look at and approve. Make sure you ask them verbally if the spelling and information being printed on the garment is correct. It is always good to point out that the print proof is exactly what will print on the garment to size. That helps the customer put a little more attention to examining the artwork. Many screen printers make the customer sign off on artwork prior to printing. But in the end if there is a problem with the job it will benefit you to fix it at your cost. That’s right, even if the customer approved the artwork and it was incorrect. A happy customer is worth more than the bottom line on the invoice!
Another point to keep in mind with male and female customers is that the female customer will tend to be more picky when it comes to the actual garment they purchase. Men tend to purchase men’s shirts and they pretty much know what to expect. Even when men purchase more complex garments they often are less likely to have a problem with the products they chose due to style or fit. Women on the other hand will tend to buy more expensive women’s cut garments. And they have higher expectations for the garment than men. This is rightfully so because women’s shirts always cost much more than the men’s due to fabric, stitching, cuts and so on. Therefore it can be critical when working with women that you have samples of the ladies products you will be selling. If you let them pick it out of a catalogue using only a picture as a guide, you may be heading for trouble.
Finally I will give some advice on rush jobs. When in doubt, don’t take the rush job. If you aren’t sure you can meet the needs and expectations of your customer in a hurry, then it will be more beneficial to you to be honest and pass on the job. This is one of those things where printers will think they are doing the customer a favor by taking a rush job and when something goes wrong, the printer is upset that the customer is upset when they were only trying to help. You have to understand that the customer doesn’t really think you are helping any extra or doing any favors. And really you aren’t because you will get paid for the job just like any other. The rushing of the print job is just a part of your customer service. So don’t get your feelings hurt when you deliver a rush job and the customer treats it like nothing…. LOL.
Like I said before the bottom line is that a happy customer is worth so much more than the print job you are working on with them. So in the end it will behoove you to fix errors at your cost no matter who may be responsible for them. And if you are a manual printer like me who is very close to all the work you do, try not to take it too hard when a customer expresses dissatisfaction. Just turn that around by taking care of the problem and making your customer very happy that you did. Remember, word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools for local screen printers.